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Clinton Unleashes Broadside Against Trump In Foreign Policy Speech

Hillary Clinton delivered a highly-anticipated foreign policy speech today in San Diego — a harsh rebuke Donald Trump’s rhetoric, absence of serious policy proposals, and the threat he presents to the future of the country and the world.

“Americans aren’t just electing a president in November; we’re choosing our next commander-in-chief, a person we count on to answer questions of war and pace, life and death,” she said. “The person the Republicans have nominated for president cannot do the job.”

“Making Donald trump our Commander-in-Chief would be a historic mistake. It would fuel an ugly narrative about who we are, that were fearful, not confident,” she said in one of her many direct broadsides against the Republican nominee. “You don’t know America and you certainly don’t deserve to lead it.”

Her speech focused on more than the international ramifications of a Trump victory in November. Clinton called him out for his lack of concrete policy or plans for governance. “Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different; they are dangerously incoherent,” said the former secretary of State. “They aren’t even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”

“This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes, because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into war because someone got under his very thin skin,” she said.

“He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals, ambassadors and other high officials because he has ‘a very big brain.’ He also said ‘I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.’ You know what? I don’t believe him,” she said, calling into question the entire basis of his foreign policy credentials, which are non-existent outside of hotel and golf course deals, some of which he fails to repay the loans on.

Her remarks were the culmination of weeks of attacks by Trump against Clinton on everything from her time as Secretary of State to her husband’s alleged infidelities, which Trump who has promised capitalize on, despite it having no bearing on Clinton’s candidacy.

“Do we want him making those calls?” said Clinton. “Someone thin skinned and quick to anger, who lashes out at the smallest criticisms? Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?”

She went on to mention how his victory would embolden Russia and China, given Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his dismissal of the Tiananmen Square Massacre as “a riot.” Clinton portrayed herself as a continuation of America’s post-Cold War status as the sole global superpower, and a Trump presidency as a force that would threaten the international system the Americans spent decades setting up.

“Moscow and Beijing are deeply envious of our alliances around the world because they have nothing,” she said. “If Donald trump gets his way, they will be celebrating in the Kremlin.”

Surprisingly, Trump only managed to tweet twice about the eviscerating speech, before telling his supporters to join him for his next campaign stop in Redding, California.

Latest California Polls Show Democrats Well Positioned To Win State Regardless Of Candidate

The latest polls out of California are showing the same trends that have defined the Democratic primary campaign thus far, with younger voters overwhelmingly supporting Bernie Sanders and older voters backing Hillary Clinton. The determining factor in the upcoming Tuesday primary will be voter turnout.

The good news, for the Democratic Party, is that regardless of who wins the party’s nomination, California voters who feel Sanders is too liberal or that Clinton is too tied to the establishment won’t flee into the arms of Donald Trump, contrary to doomsday predictions made by the racist billionaire and the punditocracy.

Clinton started off the Democratic nomination race with a huge lead nationally and in the Golden State. In February 2015, she commanded 73 percent of the likely vote, according to the California-based Field Research Corporation. Her lead has since evaporated, with 47 percent of likely California voters supporting her and 45 percent support her rival, putting Sanders within the margin of error.

A deeper dive into the numbers reveals that the levels of support the two candidates command effectively cancel each other out. Among male voters, Sanders leads Clinton 48 to 39 percent. Among female voters, she led 49 to 40 percent. Nevertheless, Sanders continued to receive the overwhelming support of young voters, with more than two-thirds of voters under the age of 40 supporting him.

Among likely Democratic voters, 88 percent would support Sanders should he win the nomination and run against Trump. Only six percent of Democrats would defect and vote for Trump. In a Clinton-Trump matchup, 83 percent would support her in the all but likely chance that she runs against Trump, while only eight percent would vote for the orange-colored man.

A poll by PPIC shows a similar level of voter retention regardless of the Democratic nominee. Eighty-five percent of Democratic voters said they would support Clinton or Sanders if the election were held today. Among independents, Sanders polled at 61 percent, keeping with his strong support from political independents, while Clinton polled at 51 percent.

Another unknown is the voting preferences of 2 million first-time voters that have registered in the state in the past 6 months, part of a push by governor Jerry Brown, who recently endorsed Clinton, to get more Californians involved in the election. Among first time voters, Sanders receives 60 percent support, according to the Field Research Corporation poll. A large numbers of California’s newly registered voters are also Hispanic, a crucial demographic in the general election and one which Sanders and Clinton currently split in California.

Clinton is favored to win the primary. But polling predictions have often failed to pan out on primary day, especially in this election cycle. While polling site Real Clear Politics shows that she has averaged a 6 point lead over Sanders, the latest polls show him within the margin of error. The Clinton campaign desperately wants to avoid a repeat of the Indiana primary, which she was all but guaranteed to win, but which come primary day went to Sanders in a historic upset.

But, according to FiveThirtyEight, Clinton is still practically unbeatable, with a 94 percent chance of winning the primary. In addition to maintaining a marginal lead over Sanders, and picking up the endorsement of California’s well-liked governor, Clinton also counts the support of 36 of California’s 53 congressional representatives and both of the state’s senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

At stake are the 475 delegates the state carries, which could effectively seal the nomination should Clinton perform well. She is just 73 delegates shy of winning the nomination, including super delegates who have pledged to support her. Of course: regardless of the outcome Tuesday, Bernie Sanders continues to state that he will stay in the race until the Democratic National Convention, where he says he will make an electability argument to superdelegates.

Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Judge Attacked By Trump Has Long History of Serving His Country

Donald Trump’s blatantly racially motivated denunciation of Gonzalo Curiel, the presiding judge over a pair of Trump University lawsuits, draws attention away from Curiel’s distinguished career serving the nation’s judiciary.

The Indiana-born judge first entered the public consciousness during a recent rally held by Trump, in which he devoted 15 minutes to bashing Curiel and the “rigged” system that landed his scam “university” in court — it was a blatant attack on the nation’s independent judiciary.

“The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine,” said Trump. “You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?”

Trump’s questioning of Curiel’s loyalty to the country of his birth is a disservice to the long career Curiel has had in the American justice system.

As Slate’s William Saletan wrote shortly after the attack, “This isn’t a complaint about illegal immigrants. It’s not even a dog whistle. It’s a straight-up appeal to prejudice. It’s about the color of your skin, the sound of your last name, and where your ancestors came from.”

Curiel is no normal judge. Appointed by President Barack Obama, he has led the way in cracking down on the drug cartels operating between the Mexican-American border.

That’s not an easy job, especially considering that Mexican cartels often rely on lawlessness and the absence of state power to exercise free reign in the areas they control. An imaginary line on the map doesn’t change those goals.

From 1989 until to 2002, Curiel served as an assistant U.S. attorney in southern California. As the deputy chief, and later, chief of the Narcotics Enforcement Division, he aided his Mexican counterparts in dealing with narcotics distribution and the drug cartels. In 2002, The New York Times named Curiel as one of the central figures in weakening the power of the Arellano Félix cartel, once one of the most notoriously violent cartels in Mexico.

“The trusted assassins the Arellanos had, like La Rana, are gone. The money launderers, taken out,” said Curiel to the newspaper at the end of the efforts to bring down the cartel. “There’s been so much corrosion, so much dismantling of the network…much of the structure is gone.”

As far back as 1997, Curiel was reported to have been taking on Mexican drug cartels. He lived under tight security for fear of assassination, a favorite tool of cartels. At the time, Emilio Valdez Mainero, a member of the Arellano Félix cartel, said in a bugged conversation with a inmate-turned-informant that he wanted to kill Curiel. Threats at the time were taken seriously, especially given the high profile murders of Tijuana’s police chief in February 2000, followed shortly by the murder of Jose Patiño, a prosecutor who Curiel had personally worked with in stopping the cartels.

The fact that Curiel, and the rest of the task force aimed at helping stop the drug cartels, were of Mexican descent further increased cooperation between the Mexican and American governments. “We were working without the disconnect of interpreters and barriers of culture. When it comes down to it, this involves the country of our parents,” said Curiel.

The imperious contempt Trump has for Mexican immigrants would surely prevent any similar collaboration from taking place.

Trump Owes At Least $100 Million To Bank That Tried To Skirt Dodd-Frank

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has taken out 16 loans from 11 different lenders, totaling at least $335 million, according to a Mother Jones analysis of Trump’s financial disclosure form.

His favorite lender, according to the forms, was Deutsche Bank, a major German institution with American subsidiaries that attempted to dodge new regulations instituted by the Dodd-Frank Act.

Deutsche Bank lent Trump at least $295 million between two major projects of his, Trump National Doral golf course and Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Trump also has two outstanding loans worth at least $50 million from the German bank.

While this country has had wealthy presidents, none have been so deeply in debt as Trump. How much pressure could an institution like Deutsche Bank, upon which a sizable portion of Trump’s wealth is dependent, pile on the Republican nominee should he become president?

“They weren’t in a situation where someone could put pressure on them to do what they want,” said Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, to Mother Jones. “Whereas having a president who owes a lot of money to banks, particularly when it’s on negotiable terms—it puts them at the mercy of the banks and the banks are at the mercy of regulators.”

The industry Trump made his name, and wealth, in further added to the problem. “In real estate, the prevailing business model is to own a lot but also owe a lot, and that is a potentially very troublesome business model for someone in public office,” said Painter.

Recall that Trump has also promised to repeal Dodd-Frank, calling it “a very negative force, which has developed a very bad name.” But asides from the pantomimed denunciations of legislation reining in the excesses of the very banking practices that led to the 2008 global economic crash, Trump has revealed little of what he would replace Dodd-Frank with, if anything. Nevertheless, his creditors are likely pleased by his proposed anti-legislation.

Following the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, Deutsche Bank tried to skirt the new regulations set up by the act. The bank rewrote its corporate structure to make it less American, thus avoiding having to inject up to $20 billion worth of capital, a regulatory requirement to avoid a repeat of the 2008 collapse.

The stricter regulations also placed limits on how easily a subsidiary of a foreign bank could invest and how much risk it could take on. The point of the stricter rules was to avoid another multi-trillion dollar taxpayer-funded bailout. But such regulations would require the raising of billions of dollars and authorizing new shares, which would cut into profits, Wall Street’s obsessive pursuit.

Trump’s biggest single creditor has already been fined for engaging in illegal activities. Last year, Deutsche Bank was fined $2.5 billion for rigging interest rates in the U.S. and abroad. “Deutsche Bank employees engaged in a widespread effort to manipulate benchmark interest rates for financial gain,” said New York State Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky in a statement at the time.

“While a number of the employees involved in misconduct have already left the bank, those that remain are being terminated or banned from the New York banking system. We must remember that markets do not just manipulate themselves: It takes deliberate wrongdoing by individuals.”

On top of being ordered to pay a $2.5 billion fine, Deutsche Bank was ordered to fire seven employees who played a role in manipulating interest rates. The bank was judged even more harshly in the UK, where its Financial Conduct Authority determined that 29 Deutsche Bank employees were involved in the misconduct.

“This wasn’t limited to a few individuals but, on certain desks, it appeared deeply ingrained,” said Georgina Philippou, the agency’s acting director of enforcement and market oversight, in a statement. “Deutsche Bank’s failings were compounded by them repeatedly misleading us. The bank took far too long to produce vital documents and it moved far too slowly to fix relevant systems and controls.”

Given that sort of company, Trump has a clear conflict of interest in any banking “reforms” he says he would pursue.

Photo: A doorman stands as people walk past the Trump Tower in New York, U.S., May 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Trump Donated To Vets Group Known For Being A Scam Operation

Following a lengthy temper tantrum aimed at the media, Donald Trump released a list of veterans charities that were going to receive the money he claims to have raised back in January. One of those charities, Foundation for American Veterans, is known to be a scam operation.

The Foundation for American Veterans received $75,000, according to a list published by the Trump campaign. However, the foundation is known for spending very little of its money on actually helping veterans, according to CharityWatch, a charity watchdog group, who gave the foundation an “F” rating. The Foundation for American Veterans failed to meet transparency or governance benchmarks and spends just 10 cents on veterans benefits, meaning that 90 cents of every dollar Trump paid the group will go towards “Fundraising and Management & General Expenses,” according to CharityWatch.

According to a 2010 press release from the Missouri Attorney General’s office, the foundation allocated only 9 percent of its expenditures for charitable causes. A report by the Oregon attorney general’s office the previous year found that the organization had disbursed a similar level of its expenditures on charitable activities at that time as well.

Making such a mistake says more about the so-called “vetting process” Trump used to choose his designated veterans charities than anything else. The group is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the state of Minnesota over $930,000 it raked in from state residents since 2011. The group has also been accused of using pressure tactics and fake pledge reminders to coerce predominantly older and ex-military citizens to contribute money to the charity.

“By sending fake pledge reminders, we believe they were trying to guilt people into donating money they otherwise didn’t want to donate,” Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson told the Star Tribune.

This, of course, flies in the face of statements Trump made earlier today about the vigorous vetting process charities had undergone in order to qualify for the $5.6 million he now claims he will give them. “You have to go through a process. When you send checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars to people and to companies and to groups that you’ve never heard of, charitable organizations, you have to vet it,” Trump said at a press conference at Trump Tower. “You send people out, you do a lot of work.”

The donations also raise questions about the Donald J. Trump Foundation, Trump’s nonprofit charity that may have been involved in the fundraising operation. As noted by The Washington Post, it is illegal for nonprofit organizations to take part in any political campaigns.

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds paperwork which states “Donald J. Trump, Veteran Fundraiser” during a news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 31, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri  

Veterans Protest Trump As He Bashes Press Over Veterans Fundraising Stories

A handful of protesters gathered outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue this morning to protest the Republican nominee’s politically motivated concern for veterans, and his divisive rhetoric. Meanwhile, Donald Trump fielded questions from a charged press gallery, whom he repeatedly insulted, including calling an ABC journalist “a sleaze.”

“I’m protesting the hate speech he stands for,” said Peter Bronson, an 81-year-old Korean War veteran who served on a French air base in Morocco, to The National Memo. “We all served with Muslims. Most of us served in the Middle East.”

“I married a woman from Morocco and I feel that our enemies aren’t Muslims. This isn’t a religious war,” he said.

The veterans were part of the “Vets VS Hate” movement, a group of military veterans opposed to Trump’s hate speech. While there were only a handful of veterans out in front of Trump Tower, today’s protest was the latest in a series by veterans opposed to the most overly militaristic presidential candidate of the 2016 race.

“I think for many of us, its outrageous that Trump would malign Muslims, women, Latinos, many of whom have donned the uniform and served their country, unlike Mr. Trump,” said Perry O’Brien, who served in the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan. “It’s very clear that Donald Trump is not cut from the same moral fabric of the veterans he’s trying to use to advance his own agenda.”

Inside Trump Tower, there was little of the same grounded, rational thinking taking place. In an unusually antagonistic — even for him — press conference, Trump made it clear he was unhappy that the media had called him out on the donations he promised to veterans. “The money has all been sent. I wanted to keep it private,” said the man who basked in the attention he received when he decided to skip the Republican debate in Iowa for his veterans fundraising event, “because I don’t think its anybody’s business if I want to send money to the vets.”

“I will say the press should be ashamed of themselves. And on behalf of the vets, the press should be ashamed of themselves,” he said, trying to flip the script. “Instead of being like ‘Thank you very much Mr. Trump,’ or ‘Trump did a good job,’ everyone is saying ‘Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?’ and you make me look very bad. I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job.”

Trump read from a list of organizations who had received money from him, after weeks of intense pressure by the media following reports that he had neither raised nor handed out the amounts he had claimed. The updated list consists of 40 organizations, rather than the 22 he had originally announced during the January fundraiser

“I have to say this, I raised close to $6 million. It’ll probably be over that amount when its all said and done. But as of this moment it is $5.6 million,” he said.

“It went up from $1 million to $2 million to $3 million and it now ends up to be almost $6 million,” he said.

He also accused the veterans protesting outside the tower of being sent there by Hillary Clinton, yet in interviews with them, not one protestor mentioned the Democratic frontrunner.

Following a general attack on the press, Trump specifically went after ABC News reporter Tom Llamas, who previously asked Trump if he had a problem with being honest.

“What I don’t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say– like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC, he’s a sleaze in my book,” said Trump.

“Why am I a sleaze?” said Llamas from the audience.

“You’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well,” Trump responded.

However, the facts are that the Trump campaign attempted to bury the veterans fundraiser publicity stunt as soon as the debate in Des Moines wrapped up. The fact is that $5.6 million is not $6 million, and that the press had every right, especially given the lack of transparency surrounding the donations and their disbursement to the 24 veterans organizations the proceeds were promised to, to call Trump to account and ask where those millions went. The latest release by the Trump campaign shows nearly double the number of veterans organizations and a $400,000 shortfall in the amount claimed to have been raised. But Trump saved his best line for last.

“I find the press to be dishonest, I find the political press to be very dishonest,” said Trump, after which he ended the press conference. If there was ever a preview of the contempt with which a Trump administration would view the press, it manifested itself in today’s press conference.

How 2016 Became A Year For Anti-Choice Legislation

Oklahoma’s recently-vetoed abortion bill, which would have stripped abortion providers of their medical licensees and possibly exposed them to criminal charges, was just the latest in a raft of bills aimed at restricting access to abortions ever since Republicans swept to power in 69 of 99 state legislatures and 33 of 50 governorships during the 2014 midterm elections. In 2016, they’re trying to solidify those gains with a flurry of anti-abortion legislation.

Over the past two years, there has been an explosion in the number of anti-abortion bills introduced in state legislatures. Over 400 anti-abortion bills introduced in 2015 alone. And in the first half of this year, that number spiked again. Across 45 states, 1,022 provisions to curtail abortion rights have been introduced, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy institute focused on reproductive health and rights. Of those provisions, 17 have passed at least one legislative chamber and 21 have been enacted in five states.

The American public generally only notices these bills once they reach the governor’s office, where they’re vetoed, like in Oklahoma, or signed into law, as in Indiana, Michigan, Alabama and South Carolina.

While the rest of the country was focused on the Oklahoma standoff, South Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill making it illegal for women more than 20 weeks pregnant to get an abortion, ostensibly to avoid inflicting pain on the unborn child, despite evidence that fetal pain doesn’t occur until after the 28th week of conception.

Indiana passed one of the most restrictive laws in the country back in March, effectively blocking any of the remaining avenues for women to access safe abortions in the state. “Seeing them all in one place, that is very striking,” said Dawn Johnsen, an Indiana University law professor and abortion rights activist, to The New York Times. “It’s like the kitchen sink: Everything that isn’t already in the law. And the law is already really restrictive.”

Indiana’s law banned abortion on the grounds of “race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.” It further required that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital.

In West Virginia, the Republican-controlled state legislature overrode a veto by Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to make it illegal to get an abortion after 20 weeks of a pregnancy. Titled the Dismemberment Abortion Act, the bill banned anyone from performing an abortion except where the mother’s life was in danger.

Meanwhile, pro-life groups continue to bankroll political campaigns, with $835,000 being spent in 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2014, pro-life groups spent just over $800,000.

Abortion bills often share a common rhetoric to justify limiting women’s health care access. Recently, the word “dismemberment,” meant to evoke chopped up fetuses, is a favorite of the anti-abortion right. David Daleiden edited hidden camera footage to make it seem like Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast was selling “baby parts” in 2015 — incidentally, he faces two felonies and a misdemeanor charge for that video today.

This obsession with “dismembered” babies was one of the reasons Robert Lewis Dear, who killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, claimed to have attacked the facility. During a rambling interview following his arrest, Dear reportedly yelled “No more baby parts!” a reference to the videos Daleiden had shot earlier that year.

There may be another factor fueling the recent surge in abortion legislation across the country: the successful candidacy of Donald Trump, who has defied conservative orthodoxy on everything from trade to the minimum wage.

There has been a concerted push by Christian conservatives, whose traditional positions on numerous issues have been upended by Donald Trump’s ascent, to make sure the party does not shift on abortion, even if he has personally vacillated on the procedure.

“I think our platform is pretty clear on those subjects. Life begins at conception, and that 14th Amendment rights apply to unborn children,” Reince Priebus said in late April, in one of the few instances he has had the courage to publicly contradict Trump. He was backed up by a reanimated Ted Cruz, who has promised he would wield his 500-plus delegates on the convention floor to enforce a sufficiently conservative party platform on abortion, should Trump try to change it.

If abortion operates on the same paradigm as most other conservative social issues — support of anti-choice legislation is especially common when the Christian right can paint itself as the “victim” of women’s right to choose — expect plenty more legislation as this massive culture war of an election grinds on.
Photo: Protesters gather outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Vista, California, August 3, 2015.      REUTERS/Mike Blake 

Is ExxonMobil Responsible For Lying About Climate Change? Republican Senators Say Fraud Is ‘Free Speech’

A group of Republican senators has written a letter to the U.S. Attorney General to stifle any future federal inquiries concerning climate change, claiming it violates the First Amendment rights of corporations like ExxonMobil, which suppressed its research into the phenomenon for several decades, according to an explosive report from Inside Climate News last September.

A group of Democratic senators has since responded with their own letter, asking the Attorney General to stay the course.

The first letter, signed by Republicans Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions, Mike Lee, David Perdue, and David Vitter, accused the attorney general of suppressing debate on the validity of climate change, a violation of the First Amendment rights of corporations who have continued to question the validity of climate change.

Privately-funded scientific research can be actively misrepresented, they argue, even despite the global implications of doing so. It’s not fraud, it’s free speech!

“These actions provide disturbing confirmation that government officials at all levels are threatening to wield the sword of law enforcement to silence debate on climate change,” the letter, addressed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, reads. “As you well know, initiating criminal prosecution for a private entity’s opinions on climate change is a blatant violation of the First Amendment and an abuse of power that rises to the level of prosecutorial misconduct.”

“Threatening prosecution of those who dare to challenge the most outlandish scaremongering by climate activists strikes at the very heart of the Free Speech protections on which this nation was founded,” said Lee, one of the senators who signed the letter, in a statement that appeared on Cruz’s Senate page.

Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, and Sheldon Whitehouse, some of the most liberal Democrats in the chamber, shot back with their own statement claiming that companies like Exxon committed fraud, which isn’t protected as free speech under the First Amendment, when suppressing the findings of its own scientists on the effects of fossils fuels.

“We write today to urge that you view the Republican Senators’ May 25 letter as Exhibit A among the reasons why the Department of Justice should take a full and honest look at possible fraud in the fossil fuel industry’s climate denial operation,” read the Democratic senators’ response. “It has always been and remains good law that fraud is not protected by the First Amendment. It would be a sorry world in which corporations engaged in fraud could pull the screen of the First Amendment over any investigation of their fraud.”

The senators said that their Republican counterparts were using tactics once used by the tobacco industry and its supporters to suppress scientific scrutiny of the harmful effects of cigarettes on humans.

“The Republican Senators’ letter reprises the tobacco lawsuit’s own early history of efforts from Congress to discourage or interfere with that lawsuit in order to protect the tobacco industry,” continued the letter. “The Republican Senators’ letter also reprises arguments made in the press against bringing the tobacco lawsuit, and made in court against that lawsuit: to wit, that the First Amendment should prevent the investigation or determine the litigation. This argument was soundly rejected by the Department, and then by Judge Kessler, and then by the United States D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

It’s ironic that the party of climate change deniers is demanding that their side be given the freedom of speech to air their politically motivated, unscientific opinions on climate change while consistently opposing any discussion of the real effects by anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Last year, aided in part by Cruz, Republicans claimed that NASA was wasting money monitoring weather patterns that have revealed already the real effects of climate change. “The core function of NASA is to explore space,” said the Texas senator. “NASA in the current environment has lost its full focus on that core mission.”

He was predictably annoyed that NASA was actively educating the public about the realities of climate change and sharing the data it collected with the global scientific community.

While Republicans may want to continue to question and deny the scientific validity of climate change, even their bankrollers are beginning to come around to the reality that fossil fuels are shifting the planet’s weather patterns and causing extreme weather to occur more regularly. On Wednesday, ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded energy company in the world, voted to make it easier to elect climate change advocates to the company’s board of directors in a vote approved by 62 percent of the company’s shareholders.

“We are not ignoring the risk that is out there,” said Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson following a shareholder meeting in Dallas, when pressed by one shareholder about climate science. “I don’t think we see it all that differently. Our differences are in how we’re going to address it.”

That wasn’t the case for decades, when Exxon hid the scientific evidence of anthropogenic climate change. Now, Republicans want to protect the rights of other corporations to lie about the potentially catastrophic implications of their private scientific research.

It’s Good To ‘Rattle’ Allies ‘In A Friendly Way,’ Trump Says Following Nomination Victory

Donald Trump’s plan for the world stage? Terrify America’s allies into respecting us again.

“Many of the countries in our world have been absolutely abusing us and taking advantage of us,” he said during a press conference in Bismarck, North Dakota on Thursday. “If they’re rattled in a friendly way, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.” Trump’s remarks were in response to comments made by President Obama during the G7 summit in Japan, that world leaders were “rattled” by Trump’s rhetoric.

“They’re rattled by him and for good reason,” Obama said during a press conference at the summit. “Because a lot of the proposals that he’s made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude or an interest in getting tweets and headlines instead of actually thinking through what is required to keep America safe.”

The newly-crowned Republican presidential nominee’s contradictory foreign policy platform has consisted of reversing the postwar world order, promoting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and starting a trade war with China in order to somehow balance out America’s trade deficit.

Of America’s allies, many of whom are members of NATO, Trump said during his foreign policy speech last month at the Center for the National Interest, “The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense – and, if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.” It’s understandable that countries like Germany, Japan, South Korea, and many others would feel threatened by his rhetoric: Their postwar economic strength rested in large part upon a guarantee of security by the United States.

Trump simultaneously agreed and disagreed with the idea that South Korea, Japan, and even Saudi Arabia should by allowed build nuclear weapons during an interview on CNN with Anderson Cooper:

TRUMP: At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself, we have…

COOPER:  Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?

TRUMP:  Saudi Arabia, absolutely.

COOPER:  You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?

TRUMP:  No, not nuclear weapons, but they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us.

Here’s the thing, with Japan, they have to pay us or we have to let them protect themselves.

COOPER:  So if you said, Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?

TRUMP:  Can I be honest with you?  It’s going to happen, anyway.  It’s going to happen anyway.  It’s only a question of time.  They’re going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely. But you have so many countries already, China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia, you have so many countries right now that have them.

Now, wouldn’t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons? And they do have them. They absolutely have them. They can’t — they have no carrier system yet but they will very soon. Wouldn’t you rather have Japan, perhaps, they’re over there, they’re very close, they’re very fearful of North Korea, and we’re supposed to protect.

Trump’s avoiding the question at hand — he switches to discussing Japan when asked about Saudi Arabia — is one piece in a mountain of evidence that he hasn’t seriously considered the realities constraining his worldview, nor discussed shortcomings in his diplomatic or historical knowledge with any experts.

The same appears to be the case with Trump’s oft-repeated line that he will make China pay for stealing American jobs by instituting a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese goods entering the country. “I don’t mind trade wars when we’re losing $58 billion a year,” said Trump, even though having a trade deficit isn’t an inherently bad thing, as all countries have trade surpluses with certain trading partners and deficits with others. While only rough predictions are available on the consequences of a large-scale trade war, the consensus among economists is that the U.S. would fail to generate millions of jobs and would face reduced economic activity, if not an outright recession.

There’s nothing “friendly” about threatening key trading partners and allies.

‘Small Government’ Republicans Want To Control D.C.’s Budget

The House passed legislation Wednesday afternoon gutting a local ballot measure that would give Washington, D.C. more control over its finances. The vote took place on partisan lines, with Republicans voting for the measure and Democrats voting against it.

“The current D.C. government needs to be reined in,” said House Majority Leader Paul Ryan in a statement highlighting Republican arguments in support of the bill. “We will not allow Congress and the Constitution to be undermined.

“Congress has ultimate authority over the District,” he said, “and efforts to undermine this authority are in violation of the Constitution. There are real consequences.”

Lawmakers had voted 240-179 in favor of a bill that would prevent the District from spending tax dollars without congressional approval. The vote is the latest in a campaign that started in 2012 to give residents of D.C. greater autonomy in how to spend the city’s money, and is part of an effort by Republican congressmen to prevent the District from using local or federal cash to fund abortions or marijuana decriminalization (pot was legalized late last year in D.C.).

While the Republican-controlled Congress says it’s only reining in unconstitutional excesses, D.C.’s non-voting Congressional representative Eleanor Holmes Norton was understandably angered by legislation that nullified the 2012 Budget Autonomy Act, a ballot initiative aimed at giving more power to local government.

“It is profoundly undemocratic for any member of Congress in the 21st century to declare that he has authority over any jurisdiction except his own,” she said during a debate on the House floor.

But House Republicans have argued that the ballot initiative was a clear violation of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, a law passed in 1973 which devolved certain powers, like being able to elect a mayor and city council. But all laws passed by the District’s government had to be reviewed and approved by Congress before being signed into law, including yearly budget plans, hence the Republican bill aimed at overturning the Budget Autonomy Act.

President Obama has said he would veto any legislation that barred D.C. from following through on the overwhelming support the 2012 ballot initiative received from the city’s residents.

“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5233, which would repeal the District of Columbia’s Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act of 2012,” read a statement of administrative policy sent out yesterday. “The Administration strongly supports home rule for the District and the President has long called for authority allowing the District to spend its own local taxes and other non-Federal funds without congressional approval … If the President were presented with H.R. 5233, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Prior to the vote, city officials had said they were planning to not submit their budget to Congress, as per the stipulations of the Budget Autonomy Act. Should Paul Ryan have his way, D.C. would be forced to submit its budget for approval, possibly at the cost of programs popular with residents of the District, including providing local funding for abortion access for Medicaid-eligible women, and establishing a regulatory framework for legal marijuana sales.

Photo: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Trump Spokeswoman Accidentally Emails Politico Reporter For Dirt On Clintons

Mid-day Wednesday, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks sent an email to Marc Caputo, a political reporter at Politico, to dig up dirt on the Whitewater real estate scandal. Unfortunately, that email was meant for Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign advisor.

In the email, Hicks said she wanted him to “work up information on HRC/Whitewater as soon as possible. This is for immediate use and for the afternoon talking points process.”

The Whitewater scandal originated in the late 70’s and concerned a real estate development company that the Clinton’s and their friends, Jim and Susan McDougal, formed called the Whitewater Development Corporation, which planned on selling vacation homes along the White River in Arkansas. Clinton was later accused of using his influence as the state governor to secure a $300,000 loan for the McDougals.

No inquiry of Whitewater ever produced any evidence of wrongdoing.

Following Bill Clinton’s election in 1992, both the Department of Justice and Congress investigated the deal, and several draft indictments of Hillary Clinton were written up by the Department of Justice. They were never released but are currently the subject of a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a conservative group attempting to force the National Archives to release the indictments under the Freedom of Information Act.

Trump has already advertised through his surrogates that plans to dig up as much of the Clintons’ past as possible. “The Clintons collectively have dodged many, many, many bullets. So much that was suppressed [by the media] is going to get re-analyzed. So many of the things that they slipped by on will get reexamined,” said Trump confidant Roger Stone on Monday. “That’s something they should have counted on before getting into the race.”

Stone, a political hatchetman with a history that stretches back to Richard Nixon’s campaigns for president, is often the only source in the National Inquirer stories Trump is fond of quoting on the trail, including one which alleged Ted Cruz had carried out extramarital affairs.

Yet to be determined: Whether re-litigating 20 years of non-scandals as the central plank of a political campaign can make up for record low popularity, nearly no knowledge of any major policy area, and the temperament of a man child. Good luck, Donald.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in Anaheim, California, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Democrats Consider Removing Debbie Wasserman Schulz As DNC Chair

Congressional Democrats are considering removing Debbie Wasserman Schultz from her position as chair of the Democratic National Committee in an effort to placate liberal Democrats and supporters of Bernie Sanders at the party’s convention this July.

“There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on,” said a pro-Clinton Democratic senator to The Hill. “I don’t see how she can continue to the election. How can she open the convention? Sanders supporters would go nuts,” said the lawmaker, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.”

While such a candid statement may have been unthinkable a few months ago, the Sanders campaign’s has repeatedly targeted of the DNC chair, accusing Wasserman Schultz of favoring Hillary Clinton throughout the primary season.

“Someone else could play a more positive role,” said campaign manager Jeff Weaver said on CNN in response to a question about whether she should leave her post. “I’m trying to be diplomatic.”

Following Wasserman Schultz’s statements about the commotion that took place during the Nevada Democratic convention, in which she condemned Sanders for not forcefully coming out against the disruptions over the course of that event, Jeff Merkley, the sole senator to endorse Sanders thus far, said she was adding fuel to the fire.

“It’s very important for her to adopt a role of pouring oil on troubled waters. She did the opposite last week when she poured gasoline on the events that occurred in Nevada,” said Merkley.

The murmurs come following months of animosity between Wasserman Schultz and the Sanders campaign, which go as far back as last year, when the Vermont senator accused her of scheduling too few debates at times that no one would be able to watch them. Back then however, the Democratic establishment didn’t think the disagreements between the two would lead to the level of animosity that has boiled over in the past month — they also didn’t think Sanders would still be in the race in May.

Back in December, Weaver struck a different tone. “Individual members of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want,” he said, “but they are not going to sabotage our campaign.”

Weaver’s call recently for Wasserman Schultz removal, a message that Sanders undoubtedly supports, marked the apotheosis of a brewing fight between the liberal and centrist wings of the Democratic Party.

Nevertheless, the such talk appears preliminary. The Hill reported that numerous congressional Democrats discounted any notions that Wasserman Schultz was going to step down before the July convention.

“We don’t need to be making a change in chairs right now as we’re coming to the conclusion of this. I strongly believe that,” said Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat who has been floated as a running mate for Clinton.

“That’s not going to happen. I certainly wouldn’t let it happen,” said Bill Nelson, a Democratic senator from Florida, Wasserman’s Schultz’s home state.

Even Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, said in an emailed statement, “DNC Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz enjoys the support of members of the House Democratic Caucus for her leadership in unifying the party and winning in November.”

Still, just months ago, nobody was even floating the idea that Wasserman Schultz could be replaced before the convention. While there would still be a long road ahead before any removal proceedings begin for the DNC chairwoman, the fact that “secret” discussions are already bubbling up to the press about removing her as a way of placating Sanders’ supporters is certainly a new development.

Under Incarceration Problem? Prison Workers Union Hits Back Against Cotton’s Claims

The president of a prison workers union hit back against comments made late last week by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton that the U.S. has an “under-incarceration problem,” highlighting the different conversations being had about mass incarceration in the country.

“Even with the recent inmate decline, our prison system remains terribly overcrowded and understaffed. For example, high and medium security facilities are 32% and 47% overcrowded, respectively,” wrote Eric Young, President of the Council of Prison Locals, a union representing over 30,000 prison workers across the country, in a letter addressed to Cotton. “Given these statistics, it’s hard for me to understand why you would think our country has a problem with ‘under incarceration.'”

Cotton gave a speech last week at the Hudson Institute in which he said that the nation had an “under incarceration problem,” apparently ignorant of a vastly different national conversation focused over the effects of the “tough on crime” criminal justice policy pursued by successive administrations over the past 30 years.

Cotton’s speech also conflated the low rate of arrests for property and violent crimes with a dearth of inmates filling American prisons. “Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes,” he said during his speech. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.”

The Council of Prison Locals, on the other hand, has been an advocate of criminal justice reform that would see nonviolent offenders and other inmates who pose no threat to the general public, like those in jail on drug possession charges, be given lighter sentences.

“We accept that the sentencing reform package pending in the U.S. Senate is not a perfect bill. However, this is one of those areas where we must not allow the perfect to get in the way of the good – and this is a good bill,” wrote Young in another letter to Democrat Senate Whip Dick Durbin back in 2013 when the Smart Sentencing Act of 2013 was being drafted. “The Grassley compromise bill takes much needed steps in the direction of reducing the number of people we keep incarcerated at federal prisons while also providing fairness in sentencing.”

Nevertheless, Cotton’s office was undaunted by the arguments of a prison guard union with an intimately greater day-to-day interaction with the country’s prison population. “When over half of violent crimes go unsolved, there are many heinous murderers and other dangerous offenders walking the streets who should be in prison,” said Cotton’s communications director, Caroline Rabbitt, to Politico. “Ask the wife, son, or father of a murder victim whose assailant is never arrested whether there’s at least one more criminal who should be incarcerated.”

Given nearly half of the prison population consists of people arrested on drug possession charges, there are plenty of Americans who also don’t deserve to be incarcerated for what constitutes a misdemeanor in other countries.

Photo: Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) discusses the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron    

Trump Upset That Press Revealed He Didn’t Actually Give $6 Million To Vets

On January 28, Donald Trump famously skipped the Iowa Republican debate to engage in the altruistic act of raising money for American military veterans. By the end of the night, he claimed he had raised $6 million, to be distributed to 22 veteran organizations.

Months later, veterans groups have said that they received only a portion of the millions promised by Trump’s campaign, and many listed by Trump as recipients of donations at the time still haven’t heard from him or his organization at all. Rather than own up to the fact that he had misled Americans about the amount of money he had raised and donated, Trump went on a Twitter rant, responding to a Washington Post investigation on his failed promises, and tried to make himself the victim of the vicious mainstream media.

But before buying into the narrative that the media has displayed a single-minded obsession in constantly embarrassing or attacking Trump, recall that Trump wasn’t obligated to raise money for veterans while skipping the Fox News debate. Nor did anyone force him to claim that he had raised $6 million at the end of the night. The former increasingly appears to have been a publicity stunt, and the latter a blatant lie.

The revelation that Trump had raised less than he claimed came straight from his campaign. Corey Lewandowski, his now infamous campaign manager, said that only $4.5 million had been raised.

“There were some individuals who he’d spoken to, who were going to write large checks, [who] for whatever reason . . . didn’t do it,” said Lewandowski to The Washington Post. “I can’t tell you who.”

But according to The Post‘s own analysis, which included phoning up the 22 veteran groups who were promised the proceeds of Trump’s fundraising efforts, only $3.1 million had actually been given out, barely half the amount Trump claims to have raised.

And in recent months, Trump has refused to give further details about where the money he raised is being sent. In another interview with The Post, he refused to give them any further records. “Why should I give you records?” he said said in an interview earlier this month. “I don’t have to give you records.”

It’s unclear when he found out that he hadn’t raised the $6 million he claims to have raised. But at a rally in Iowa four days later, he repeated the claim, telling the crowd, “At that rally we raised, in one hour, $6 million. Is that good?”

Trump also said that he would personally donate $1 million to the fund. As of this morning, despite a tweet claiming as much from Trump, there is still no evidence that he has done so.
Photo: Veterans wait in the crowd for the start of Donald Trump’s speech at a veterans rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Trump Advisor And Former Christian Militia Commander Courts Muslim Voters

A key foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Walid Phares, has reportedly been dispatched to Muslim communities around the nation to rally support for the sole presidential candidate to explicitly promise to ban their coreligionists from entering the country.

Like most of Trump’s heavy-handed approaches to dealing with minorities, it’s unclear how this latest overture will significantly change the fortunes of the Republican Party among American Muslims.

“These people know what they want – they’re concerned about the well-being of their communities and believe that Trump has the right economic and social agenda,” Phares said in an interview with The Hill. “But they’re trying to get a handle on how he’ll deal with the Middle East.”

However, according to polls performed by the Council on American Islamic Relations, how Trump, or any presidential candidate, handles the Middle East ranks low on the list of issues that concern American Muslims. “Foreign affairs issues” — which would presumably include “how he’ll deal with the Middle East” — was the most important issue for just 6 percent of poll respondents. Islamophobia, which Trump has fanned, and the economy, which he would surely drive into the ground with his proposed policies, which were the biggest concerns to Muslim voters.

Equally as important, the majority of American Muslims aren’t from the Middle East, according to a study done by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Only 18 percent of respondents identified as Arab. Meanwhile, 25 percent described themselves as Asian and 24 percent described themselves as black.

But lumping all Muslims together as Middle Easterners is to be expected from Phares. He has repeatedly appeared on Fox News, Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and other conservative media outlets as a “terrorism expert,” though he has close ties with several known Islamophobes who espouse simplistic views and circulate out-of-context readings of the Quran as proof that Islam is fundamentally at odds with the West.

His own rhetoric shows that such company isn’t an accident. “Jihadists within the West pose as civil rights advocates, interested solely in the ‘rights’ of their immigrant communities,” he claimed in his book Future Jihad, effectively writing off any Muslim civic group as a potential front for religious extremists. But that doesn’t mean he won’t attempt to downplay the extremism of the side he represents.

“Right now the ban is just a few sentences in a foreign policy announcement and a tweet, it’s not like he’s written books or published articles or delivered lectures on this,” he said, attempting to assuage fears that Trump’s ban wouldn’t be that bad. “He’ll continue to add context and distinction to his position as he gets new information.” It’s unclear what new information would lead to Trump changing any policy based on the premise that “Islam hates us.

Even back in 2011, when Mitt Romney first brought on Phares to advise him in his presidential run, numerous foreign policy experts were confused as to why Romney even hired him, other than to engage in dog-whistle politics. “I’m more confused than anything else, given what I know about the types of initiatives Phares has been involved in,” said Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security, to New Republic. “When you have a lot of credible scholars and practitioners within the Republican Party, why would you select as co-chair of your policy committee someone who is widely viewed as an extremist?”

At the same time, As’ad Abu Khalil, a well-known Lebanese American professor and author of the Angry Arab blog, recorded any mention of Phares in Lebanese newspapers during the Lebanese Civil War. He discovered that Phares, who generally tries to avoid discussion of his past, was a “[m]ember of the Command Council of the Lebanese Forces, [and] head of the Lebanese Immigration Apparatus in the Lebanese Forces,” a Lebanese Christian militia that believed in the creation of a Christian Arab homeland in Lebanon, partially through the ethnic cleansing of Muslim enclaves in Christian majority areas. Phares was also a close advisor of its current leader, Samir Geagea, the only militia leader to be imprisoned for crimes committed during the civil war.

Perhaps Trump thought that sending a man with an obviously Arab-sounding name would dupe Muslim voters into thinking that he had reneged on his promises to bar Muslims from entering the country and registering the ones who remained. After all, Trump failed twice in a single interview to push back against the notion that Phares was a Muslim. Perhaps he was hoping they would do the same.
Photo: YouTube user Christian Solidarity International USA

Sanders Campaigns Against The Democrats

As the primaries come to a close, Bernie Sanders has upped the ante in his fight against the Democratic establishment, leading many Democrats to worry about party unity going into the general election.

This late in the game, it’s extremely unlikely that Sanders will manage to wrest the nomination from Hillary Clinton. She’s hundreds of delegates ahead, not counting super delegates that have pledged their non-binding allegiance to her, and many in the Democratic establishment have criticized Sanders’ decision to stay in the race.

“Bernie made his point,” said an unnamed Colorado Democrat to Politico. “It’s time to bring the party back together. The longer he waits, the more damage he does. The question is whether or not he cares. The rest of us do.”

Sanders knows that, which is why he has begun focus on committee assignments and other minutiae at the Democratic National Convention in July. But that hasn’t stopped him from focusing fire on his rival.

“We need a campaign, an election, coming up which does not have two candidates who are really very, very strongly disliked. I don’t want to see the American people voting for the lesser of two evils,” he said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, describing the low favorability ratings both Clinton and Donald Trump face going into a presidential election match up.

Comments like that have signaled Sanders’ increasing investment in a divided Democratic Party as the primary calendar runs down to its last six contests. “The ‘burn it down’ attitude, the upping the ante,” wrote Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo, “seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.” While blame was initially cast on Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ fiery campaign manager, commentators started placing blame more directly on Sanders himself after his statement following the supposed scuffles that took place in the Nevada Democratic convention — Sanders placed most of the blame for his delegate’s rowdiness on “Democratic leadership us[ing] its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place.”

Sanders has also been outspoken in his criticism of Debbie Wasserman Schulz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, who has been accused of tilting the nomination process in Clinton’s favor, primarily by scheduling what few debates the Democrats had early in primary season on odd days and over long weekends. Sanders has even endorsed Tim Canova, a Democrat currently fighting a Sanders-style insurgent primary campaign against Wasserman Schulz in South Florida.

“Clearly, I favor her opponent,” Sanders said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “His views are much closer to mine than as to Wasserman Schultz’s.” He also said that if he were elected president, he would not reappoint Wasserman Schultz as chairperson of the DNC.

Nevertheless, Sanders has been able to extract concessions from the party. It was announced earlier today that Sanders would be given more seats in the party’s convention platform committee, a key body that decides party positions and policies. The agreement was part of a strategy advocated by both Sanders and Clinton allies to ameliorate the party divide and give a stronger voice to the substantial following Sanders now commands.

While Sanders initially wanted the committee to be split evenly between his and Clinton’s delegates, with one neutral appointment by the DNC chair, the announced changes were a victory in themselves for Sanders. The original rules allowed Schulz to appoint all 15 members of the committee — a move that likely could have led to a repeat of the chaos at the Nevada Democratic convention, but in Philadelphia on primetime television. One can only imagine the ways in which Donald Trump would try to use such a display to his advantage.

Clinton has been forced to tack further left in this election than most predicted she would, incorporating parts of Sanders’ message into her stump speeches. Following her surprise defeat in the Michigan primary, Clinton gave a concession speech that sounded remarkably like Sanders’s speeches, tapping into a growing anger over the behavior of American corporations outsourcing jobs and abusing the tax code.

We are going to stand up to corporations that seems have absolutely no loyalty to this country that game them so much in the first place. Look at Nabisco laying off 600 workers in Chicago and moving a production line out of the country.They have no problem taking taxpayer dollars in one and giving out pink slips with the other. Look at the Eden Corporation in Ohio. They get millions of dollars in tax credits and government contracts to make electrical equipment. But that has not stopped them from using accounting tricks to move their headquarters overseas and avoid paying their fair share of taxes here at home. Now they are shutting down a factory, eliminating more than 100 jobs, moving that work out of the country. And to top it off, they gave their CEO a payout worth more than $11 million. Now, we should make corporations pay for these so-called inversions with a new exit fare.

Her pivot towards anti-corporatism could be explained by the overblown fear that Trump will peel off white, working class Sanders supporters who espouse his anti-free trade, protectionist economic policies

In a comprehensive analysis by The Washington Post, a quarter of Sanders supporters had strongly unfavorable views of Clinton. Meanwhile, three quarters of respondents held negative views of the all-but-coronated Republican presidential candidate. More Sanders supporters said they would vote for an unnamed third party candidate than for Trump, effectively saying they would vote for literally anyone over the repeatedly-bankrupt businessman. Like much of what the racist billionaire says, his claims that independent voters will flock to him once Sanders is out of the race are more bluster than substance.

Photo: U S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Irvine, California U.S. May 22, 2016.  REUTERS/Alex Gallardo

Trump Panders On Guns After NRA Endorsement

Today, Donald Trump gave a speech at the NRA, the first specifically devoted to his ever-changing views on gun control. Echoing his history of waffling on abortion, Trump took a maximalist position on the issue at hand in order to make the group of people directly in front of him satisfied with his show of ultra-conservatism.

“Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the second amendment,” Trump said unironically. “We’re not going to let that happen. I’ll tell you that. We’re going to preserve it, we’re going to protect it, we’re going to cherish it.” He went on to describe the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. “If we had guns, it wouldn’t have been that way,” he said.

“I’d like to call for Hillary Clinton to put together a list [of potential Supreme Court nominees] also,” Trump said, referring to his unprecedented step of letting the Heritage Foundation suggest a list for his campaign. “Because I’d like to see what that list consists of… It will not be good for the people in this room,” Trump said, before catching himself. “And it won’t be good, by the way, for the people of our country, most importantly.”

Trump had already taken to Twitter before his remarks to attack Hillary Clinton’s opposition to lax gun control regulations.

Trump is a relatively new supporter of the Second Amendment. While Charlton Heston famously raised a rifle over his head and said Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore would take his gun rights away “from my cold, dead hands,” Trump was decidedly less zealous.

“It’s often argued that the American murder rate is high because guns are more available here than in other countries. Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions,” he wrote in his book The America We Deserve. “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record.”

When Trump announced that he is a “big Second Amendment guy,” it wasn’t only because he’s allegedly had a change of heart. It’s because he’s pandering to the most extreme elements of his base.

Similarly, Trump took the most extreme position possible on a woman’s right to have an abortion. This year, pressed for an answer by Chris Matthews, Trump said women should be punished for getting abortions. But back in 1999, he said, “I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors.”
Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses members of the National Rifle Association’s during their NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., May 20, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II